You want to get the most of your precious stone, that is logical and completely acceptable. But, there are enthusiastic buyers who want to push the boundaries of their exquisiteness further and acquire something that is truly authentic and rare to see. Something like color changing stones, for example. At first, they look normal and shiny as expected, but then you get surprised by their impressive chameleon nature that makes you wonder what type of gemstone you actually paid for. Color changing stones represent a unique category in jewelry and this is the perfect occasion to discover what are the names that fall under it.
This is said to be the priciest multicolor stone in the world. The history of alexandrite is quite an interesting one, especially the fact that it was discovered in a Russian emerald mine, for which it was initially mistaken. So, you already suppose that the primary color of this gemstone is green. True it is. Now you would ask yourself what is the other shade or maybe shades that alexandrite exhibits and you would be thinking of colors that are similar to green. Logically. But, when it comes to alexandrite, abnormality is its biggest perk, so it is not blue or mint that we are talking about, it is red. So, the green color is visible in daylight, while red is shown at night. The magic does not stop here. When alexandrite is exposed to artificial light, it becomes intense purple. In some gemology books, this color change is called “the alexandrite effect”. Alexandrites coming from Sri Lanka promote khaki to brown appearance. When cut as cabochon, alexandrite may exhibit yellow and pink hues, which is popularly known as the “cat’s eye” effect or chatoyancy.
How to identify color-change alexandrite: although it is a variety of chrysoberyl, which inherently consist of iron, alexandrite contains chromium presence and that is the main reason for its color change ability.
Discovered in 2003, andesine labradorite is a relatively new gemstone, typically found in orange and red color. This gemstone is unique for its metallic luster known as “labradorescence”. However, this is not the cause for its color changing performance; the cause is iridescence. Thanks to this phenomenon, andesine labradorite gradually changes its color when viewed from different angles. Other common examples of iridescent objects are soap bubbles, sea shells and butterfly wings. We would all agree that they are all captivating and pleasant to the eye, wouldn’t we? So it is the gemstone we are currently talking about. Unfortunately, andesine labradorite does not have the deserved recognition in the gemstone jewelry world and it is still unknown to the vast jewelry audience. Even there is no official data about its origin; some claim that it was discovered in the Congo, others that it has a Chinese and South Indian origin. The color spectrum of andesine labradorite ranges from velvety red to smoky gray. Collectors of rare gemstones can mostly enjoy in its red color, as the most representative one for this precious stone, which is, in most cases, obtained by heat treatments. The main reason for that is the fact that naturally red-colored andesine labradorites occur in significantly small amounts and they are prevented from commercial use.
How to identify color-change andesine labradorite: as the name speaks for itself, this gemstone is a combination of labradorite and andesine. Andesine labradorite usually features needle-like inclusions and its color intensity is lower (brighter) than labradorite.
Garnets that have the ability to showcase various hues are not just a one-of-a-kind variety in the garnet family, but also in the group of color changing stones. So, what makes them so special? It is the intensity of the color-change phenomenon, which is considered even more dramatic than the one of the finest alexandrite. When garnet is exposed to natural daylight, it exhibits a deeply saturated bronze, at times brownish-green color; under incandescent light, on the other hand, it turns pink. The second magic of garnet is that depending on the exact type/amount of light, there is a variety of color-change combinations. For example, whether the gem is viewed in an early morning or late afternoon daylight, or maybe under fluorescent or candlelight. That is why owning a garnet jewel is said to be the funniest and most enticing gemstone experience ever. However, the color changing ability of garnet is often mistaken for pleochroism, which is not. Garnet does not change its color depending on the viewing angle, but the type/amount of the lighting condition. Garnet color changing stones come from only a few places in the world, including Norway, Madagascar, Tanzania and Sri Lanka.
How to identify color-change garnet: showcasing an outstanding crystal structure composed of twelve-sided crystals and rhombic dodecahedron is the hallmark of the color changing garnet. When garnet looks too similar to alexandrite, it can be distinguished by the level of hardness (alexandrite: 8.5 Mohs, garnet: 6.5 - 7.5 Mohs). Moreover, color changing garnet usually comes in sizes larger than one carat.
When talking about sapphire, we imagine a gorgeous gem colored in royal blue, which has often been seen on eminent people over the history. Although the midnight blueness is most recognizable for sapphire, this gemstone can be also seen in yellow, green, pink and violet-purple editions. One of the many names of sapphire is “the bi-color gem”, because its most frequent color-change performance is the transition from blue to purple. In sunlight, sapphire appears blue, but when exposed to incandescent light, it exhibits bluish or violet purple color. Gemological experts say that the value of a color changing stone, like sapphire, can be best determined when the gem is viewed in well-balanced natural daylight. The blueness of sapphire comes as a result of the presence of titanium and iron in its chemical composition, whereas the violet hue occurs if the stone includes traces of vanadium. In case iron is mixed with some impurities, sapphire becomes yellowish or greenish. As for the orangish-pink shade, it is the outcome of the chromium presence. In jewelry, sapphire is treasured as a fancy, non-traditional gemstone and luckily, there is a large number of deposits that supply our industry with the beauty of sapphire, such as Thailand, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Australia, Cambodia and the US. Sapphire color changing stones with finest quality come from Myanmar (Burma) and Sri Lanka, which are known as the leading producers of the priciest sapphires in the world.
How to identify color-change sapphire: the very first thing that is noticed at this gem is impressive hardness, classified as the second best next to diamond. Also, color-change sapphire has a trigonal crystal system composed of three planes of symmetry and four axes. No cleavage is present, although there might be some uneven fractures.
When this gemstone appeared on the market for the very first time, it was introduced as “zultanite”. Later on, it was revealed that it was branded after a company that mined and traded color changing stones, including diaspore, which is a relatively new gemstone discovery. Absolutely everything is unique about this precious stone, starting from the controversy about its name and ending with its exceptional rarity and of course, color change ability. Diaspore can be found in a single region on Earth and that is the Anatolian Mountains of Turkey. The other color changing stones are jealous of diaspore, because at first glance, it looks like a vivid green stone with a delicate yellow note, but when you put it under incandescent light, it turns champagne with flashes of soft pink. Therefore, it is not a surprise why it is one of the most fascinating color changing stones, thanks to the pleasant colors it promotes, which can be easily adapted to create a breathtaking and ultra-feminine jewelry pieces. Under subdued lighting conditions, diaspore fascinates with a delicious raspberry-red color that is said to leave no one indifferent. Not quite often, this gemstone displays the cat’s eye phenomenon, also known as “cat's eye diaspore”. This effect of color change is eminently pronounced in larger diaspore specimens. The delicateness of this stone is further supported by its distinctive pearly luster and the perfect cleavage, like the one of topaz and diamond.
How to identify color-change diaspore: the two major characteristics that make this gemstone distinguishable from other similar color changing gems, are: emphasized presence of pleochroism and one-of-a-kind change in appearance (types of colors). Thanks to the outstanding grades of hardness and durability, the color changing effect in diaspore is even more enhanced and visible.
Gemstone collectors call it “the most colorful gemstone in the world”. That is absolutely true. Fluorite has the power to exhibit a multitude of spectacular colors, such as blue, green, yellow, white, purple and red, among which blue is the typical one. This is one of the few color changing stones that promote the effect of fluorescence, hence the origin of its name. When fluorite is exposed to UV lighting, it not only becomes fluorescent, but it also starts changing its color like a disco ball, depending on whether the UV light comes as shorter or longer waves. Much to your surprise, color-change fluorite promotes affordability, due to the fact that it is relatively soft and it offers a limited wear. Therefore, it is used in the making of earrings, pendants and bracelets mostly. Fluorite has a long history in gemology and jewelry craftsmanship, as it was discovered in the first half of the sixteenth century. There are a lot of color-change fluorite deposits in the world, including Mexico, Argentina, Myanmar (Burma), China, Russia, Canada and the US, as the most productive ones.
How to identify color-change fluorite: as already mentioned, low level of hardness is one of the hallmarks of this gemstone. The second one is thermoluminescence, a capability to glitter when heated. Thermoluminescence as a one-of-a-kind phenomenon that changes the fluorite stone from blue to green and vice versa.
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Written by: Liljana Tomova